Saturday, January 21, 2023 | By: Wes Nakama
Separated by less than a three-mile stretch of Salt Lake Boulevard, the Radford and Moanalua High School girls basketball teams will collide at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the first of two OIA semifinal games at Na Menehune gym.
No. 10-ranked Radford advanced Friday night by holding off Kahuku, 33-25, and Moanalua moved on after racing past Leilehua, 47-28. Both games were at Moanalua. Kahuku and Leilehua will play each other in a fifth-place bracket elimination game Monday to try and secure Division I state tournament berths.
In other quarterfinal action Friday, Kaiser rolled past visiting Mililani, 50-30, and No. 4-ranked Campbell routed visiting Kailua, 75-24. Kaiser and Campbell will square off in Monday’s 7 p.m. semifinal.
All four semifinalists have punched their ticket for the state tournament.
“I thought our girls played with a lot of heart,” Radford coach Charles Chong said. “We’ve got some girls out because of injuries or illness, so tonight was about survival. Kahuku gave us a really tough game.”
The Rams (11-2 overall, 10-1 OIA) jumped out to leads of 8-0 and 11-2 in the first 10 minutes, before the Red Raiders (10-6, 10-3) closed it to 11-8 and stayed close until Jirah Villanueva hit a baseline shot from about 12 feet to give Radford a 17-12 halftime lead. The Rams played a deliberately slow tempo since midway through the first period, waiting a good 20 or 25 seconds to get into their offense on almost every halfcourt possession.
“We had to control the tempo, (and) don’t let them (Kahuku) get into a running game,” Chong said. “I said, ‘Run if we can, but if we have to, we’ll slow the game down to a snail’s pace.’ And it was alright until we started making wrong decisions that gave (the Red Raiders) a lot of chances.”
Kahuku stayed within striking distance and pulled to within one possession after Leila Hannneman’s putback cut it to 26-23 with 4:22 remaining in the game. Mailana Mattos then sank one of two free throws 90 seconds later to ignite a 7-0 run capped by Villanueva’s two free throws with 44 seconds left which gave the Rams a commanding 33-23 lead that proved insurmountable.
Villanueva, a 5-foot-5 junior guard, finished with a game-high 19 points, including 10-for-12 shooting at the free throw line.
“It’s nice to see Jirah starting to get her touch back, both from the line and from the field,” Chong said. “Against Campbell (a 42-37 home loss two weeks ago), we left 10 points on the line, so we’ve been spending a lot of time on hitting the free throws. Free throws are super important, so hopefully the girls understand that.”
Hannemann, a junior post, led the Red Raiders with eight points.
Mahalo to City Mill for sponsoring our high school basketball photo gallery and for supporting local sports in Hawaii.